Trump praises labor secretary accused of illegally concealing sex offender's plea

By Kathryn Watson

/ CBS News

Jeffrey Epstein settlement leaves questions

President Trump on Friday praised Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, whom a federal judge says broke the law when he concealed the plea agreement of a wealthy, well-connected sex offender during his days as a prosecutor.

A federal judge ruled Thursday that Acosta and other federal prosecutors broke the law by concealing a plea agreement from more than 30 underage women who were sexually abused by wealthy New York hedge fund manager and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Federal judge Kenneth A. Marra gave federal prosecutors 15 days to speak with Epstein's alleged victims and their attorneys to determine a settlement.

Mr. Trump claimed he didn't know much about the case specifically, but praised Acosta's job as labor secretary.

"I really don't know too much about it," the president said. "I know he's done a great job as labor secretary and that seems like a long time ago, but I know he's been a fantastic labor secretary, but that's all I can really tell you."

Mr. Trump wasn't the only one in his administration to praise Acosta on Friday, with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson lauding the labor secretary. Carson told Fox Business Friday morning that Acosta, "is a man of integrity and caring and I think we just need to see how that all plays out."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the case "very complicated," and "something we're certainly looking into." She would not say whether the president still has confidence in Acosta.

House Democrats have begun calling on the president to fire Acosta.

First published on February 22, 2019 / 5:48 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kathryn Watson

Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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